- How do I confirm that I’m going on the tour?
- Where can I get the application form?
- I would like to go on the whole tour now but in a previous message I mentioned a shorter period. Is there a form to fill out?
- How should I pay for the tour?
- I would like to find out if I’ve been accepted as soon as possible because I need to book my flight.
- Why does the tour cost so much?
- I can’t afford the tour costs plus airfare to meet up with you. What if I do lots of service, can I get a discount?
- Do you have a scholarship / sponsorship option for people in financial need?
- Can I pay you in installments on a payment plan?
Q: How do I confirm that I’m going on the tour?
A: Fill out the application form and email it to us. Attach a recent photograph of yourself, and three recommendation letters from respectable people in good standing who can vouch for your good character and behavior. Wait for your application to be reviewed by our team of volunteer organizers. If your application is accepted, the organizers will let you know by email. It usually takes at least two weeks from the time you submit your application.
Q: Where can I get the application form?
A: Click on APPLY in the navigation menu. There, read the first paragraph about the application form and click on the link to view it. Copy and paste it into an email, fill it out, and return it to us along with your photo and recommendation letters.
Q: I would like to go on the whole tour now but in a previous message I mentioned a shorter period. Is there a form to fill out?
A: Just email us. We’ll try our best to accommodate your change of plans.
Q: How should I pay for the tour? Through a credit card?
A: Go to APPLY in the navigation menu, and scroll down to the bottom of that page. You’ll find information on how to send your payment. If you’re overseas, it’s best to send us a “bank draft,” a certified check that your bank draws on a sister bank here in the USA, in US dollar funds.
Q: I would like to find out if I’ve been accepted as soon as possible because I need to book my flight.
A: The festival tour volunteer team of organizers meet once a week to review applications. If you have filled out your application in detail, without skipping any sections, and you’ve attached a recent photo and three recommendation letters from respectable people in good standing, then your application is ready to be reviewed. Send us an email letting us know that you would like to know as soon as possible since you need to book a flight, and the volunteer organizers will try to review your application at their next weekly meeting.
Q: Why does the tour cost so much?
A: It doesn’t, actually. Compare your cheapest summer camp (YMCA, we checked!) at $850 per week, and they don’t move around and travel all over the continent. The bus tour is three times cheaper than the cheapest summer camp. Here’s why. Our tour operates on a cost-share basis. The bare bones costs for transportation, food, some activities (camping, national park entrance fees), accommodations are added up, and divided among all participants. That is the amount we ask as the minimum donation each participant contributes in order to break even. Everyone volunteers their time on the tour. Our bus drivers, as well as the organizers, insist on donating 100% of their time and money in the service of the devotees. We don’t get paid to do this. We get the satisfaction of being allowed to serve you, serve the devotees at the temples and festivals we visit, and serve the public by distributing the most precious gift of Sri Hari Nama to every person in every town and village.
Q: I can’t afford the tour costs plus airfare to meet up with you. What if I do lots of service, can I get a discount?
A: Everyone on the festival tour works in service to the devotees and to Krishna. We each contribute our time, money, sweat and tears to make this wonderful festival tour happen. It’s not that those who pay the minimum donation towards shared costs do any less service. Or that we can afford to give discounts for those who want to do twice as much service as everyone else. Here’s why: we travel thousands of miles across the continent in a finite amount of time. We’re constantly on the road. There are only so many people who can be accommodated on the bus(es). There are only so many sleeping spaces. We sleep on the bus bunk beds at night, while the drivers transport us to the next location. The whole tour, including our contributions of money to cover our fair share of expenses, is an opportunity for each of us to do lots of service. Paying for the costs of the tour by working hard throughout the year, even if it means taking on a part-time job on the side, is “lots of service” for the festival tour. The money we each raise and contribute is our donation that makes the tour happen.
Q: Do you have a scholarship / sponsorship option for people in financial need?
A: Going this route can take time and be uncertain. You may not get enough sponsorship monies in time to make it on the upcoming tour of your choice. You will definitely be required to roll up your sleeves and help. In the past, we’ve put applications on our website from deserving youth in financial need who could only afford to pay for half of their tour fees. In some cases we were able to raise the second half of their funds, in other cases we weren’t. We are currently asking people to contribute towards a “Deserving Youth” fund (see our “DONATE” link).
If you would like to go this route, contact us. You would be required to answer financial need questions in addition to the application form, and we would post your application publicly on our websites and blogs along with a PayPal button for people to donate specifically towards your participation. We would need you to rally your friends and extended family to help. Forward them the link to your application and ask them to contribute. We would ask you to make a presentation about the festival tour at your temple’s Sunday Feast, and share your desire with members of the congregation. (We would send you a promotional package with posters, hand-outs and videos about the festival tour that you can show at your temple.) The members of your congregation would be expected to contribute something towards your tour participation.
Recently, two boys from New Talavan temple raised half of their tour fees this way. One girl held bake sales at her temple every Sunday for three months and raised her tour fees. Another youth went from devotee to devotee, and personally asked each person to help contribute towards her being able to go on the festival tour. They helped. She was able to go. … A combination of all of the above, in addition to a part-time job, may be the most time-efficient solution for you.
Q: Can I pay you in installments on a payment plan?
Sorry, no. We’ve had too many bad experiences with this in the past. Perhaps you can borrow the needed funds from a friend or person who knows you and trusts you to pay them back, and set up a re-payment plan with them?